Hotels are strange, aren’t they? These places where people are constantly coming and going, and people speak to you in pre-approved customer service type snippets. They are places where you are surrounded by people but are quite alone, like all public places I suppose. They are international in nature, designed to appeal to a wide audience and provide the comforts of home, away from home, and are in many ways much better than home as you don’t have to cook, clean, or do laundry.
I’m in a hotel right now because I have been given a dream of a gift for Mothers’ Day, but I don’t think the hubs truly understands the magnitude of this gift and its perfect timing. Prior to my overnight stay here, I was highly combustible. I had too much on my plate, and crazy new problems kept popping up every day. I was super stressed and back to my old habit of crying in public whenever the slightest thing would go wrong. I needed a break, some peace and quiet, and some time to myself, desperately.
I think it was more than just the usual stress fraying my nerves so completely. We leave in four days for the US and I will be there with the kiddos for nearly 12 weeks. That’s nearly a quarter of a year. It will be a whirlwind as we visit family in each time zone for about a week at a time—you know my children will be waking at all kinds of random hours and Kiddo 1 will be back to asking, “Do you need a venti mocha mommy?” After that the hubs heads back to Singapore and China for work, and I settle in Chicagoland for five weeks. I’m hoping to have some sort of routine, something to help me feel grounded. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone I love out there. However, I think underneath it all I am terrified and this is why I’ve become so ridiculously fragile.
Afraid? Of what? Honestly, I’m afraid of my family. I’m afraid of how much it hurts when I acknowledge how much I miss them, and how hard it will be to spend a short time together knowing I’ll probably be away for two years until we visit again. I’m afraid of feeling that I am letting them down by not being there anymore. I’m afraid to talk about how much I truly love it out here, as that must be a dagger to my mom’s heart to some extent as it means we will probably live here for awhile.
I am afraid of my friends. I was always different, but more same-different than different-different. They’ve changed, I’ve changed, and you can’t replace the ongoing meet-ups you’ve missed no matter how much time you spend on Facebook. You can’t just jump right back in and pretend everything is normal. I suppose I worded that initial sentence incorrectly; I am not afraid of my friends, I am afraid of how anxious I will feel with my friends.
I guess at the heart of it all, I just flat out fear the unknown. I have a ridiculous fear of Australian women, just because I don’t have any as friends at the moment. I was afraid of British women too, until I actually became friends with a British woman. Sigh. I was afraid of the hot lunch line at high school because I thought I would make a big mess of it all if I didn’t know the standard operating procedure for going through it. Eventually a friend of mine went through it with me my senior year, but I just went back to the salad line or the a la carte line like usual. My lovely “city friend” Katie was very patient with my fears of using the bus in Chicago, helping me navigate when I would not manage to get off at the right stop, etc. I think she is now quite proud that I am an avid bus user out here. I can’t wait to show off my bus using skills in Singapore when she comes to visit. :)
Out of the rabbit hole and back to the story. This hotel visit is somehow helping me bridge the gap to the US. Though I can see Singapore out the hotel window, I no longer feel like I am in Singapore. I feel like I am just in a hotel, anywhere. The temperature is comfortable (a bit cold, which is lovely), my hair is smooth (thanks to the constant hotel air con) like it never is in Singapore, and no one I know is around. I watched a movie, ate a few meals in peace, and slept as long as I wanted. A truly magical gift, that could be happening anywhere. It feels weird that in an hour I will re-enter my Singapore and go back to my life, but this first step outside of my usual Singapore life will help me to set off for the US.
I feel once again untethered. It’s not a good feeling, but necessary for going back for such a long trip. I need to once again find my feet in the clouds and plant my hands firmly in the hands of my kids and the hubs as we journey once again to the unknown (that we used to know). I do not expect things to be the same. I look forward to finding out who my friends are now, what they now love, what they do now for fun, and what their kids are like now. Really, the older I get, the more fleeting all parts of life seem to be. Maybe in time I will not get so stressed about going back to America, but I will try to be compassionate with myself in the meantime. And friends, if I cry as soon as I see you, I am sorry. I love you. Just giggle with me as I laugh at myself, give me a hug, and probably some coffee. :)
See you soon.